Only Gone From Me
When I lost my first-born son to forced adoption, I felt so alone in the world. I knew this had happened before to others, but I didn't know anyone personally that had been through it. I felt ashamed, guilt ridden, and utterly lost. After failed assessments, a hellish dive into the depths of depression and despair from losing my son, I was nothing but a shadow of the girl I used to be. Newly 19, younger minded and still naïve to the world, I had been not just a witness but a participant in one of life’s cruellest twists, the loss of a child. Only my child was not lost to the world, he was just lost to me. How does your brain even begin to reconcile that your child isn’t gone completely, they are simply gone from you? How do you recover from the grief of a loss that isn’t the death of a child, but the death of a title, of a role, of the Mum you once were? These were all thoughts that went through my head when I lost my son. I was a Mum, without a child. Walking around with part of me, all of me, gone. But, only gone from me.
It’s now fourteen years on from saying my goodbye and life has changed. Unexpected and brilliant things have happened in my journey as a mother since then. Yet, it took until 2020 for me to meet another birth parent. In the space of the last 18 months, I have gotten to know more birth parents and today I was on a team’s call with two of them. There were three of us on one video call and that still blows my mind. Thanks to the organisations that I have had the honour of working with since Two Good Mums was started, I know now that there are places our there that support birth parents. There are people fighting for better practices, better contact options, and so many people trying to bring about a change that could make such positive steps towards keeping birth families and adoptees connected so our children don’t have to grow up without the answers they so desperately need about who they are, and the family they were born into.
Something that Peggy and I have strived to always do is keep the boys at the forefront of all we do. They are our priority. We started this for them, we paved this different journey through contact because it was in the best interests of the boys, and it was what they needed at the time. We were able to give them what they needed because Peggy and I had a relationship, a connection to each other beyond the letterbox system. Our journey is one that could not have been possible had we been reliant solely on letterbox. It may work for some birth parents, but for so many it is hindered words written for the sake of putting pen to paper, praying they are not forgotten, and yet still worrying that they will be because a letter just doesn’t cut it.
Had anything gone wrong as myself and the adoptive family grew our relationship, we would have stopped immediately. This is a possibility that I have always had to prepare for, and I still do. I put myself at risk of losing the boys all over again, because they needed that from me. I was lucky, we have been incredibly lucky that our journey has been a good one thus far. It hasn’t been easy, reunion is hard, emotional, and there are a lot of things that smack you in the face and take time to come to terms with; for that reason, I can absolutely imagine why it doesn’t work for everyone, but it worked for us and gosh, I’m so grateful.
Today I was on that video call with two other birth mums talking about an upcoming event. It will soon be National Adoption Week and PAC-UK are having a birth parent event on the 20th of October, which I believe is unheard of during this particular week. We usually hear from organisations who yell from the rooftops about the huge positives of adoption, speaking to those who may be interested in opening up their homes, and their hearts to adoption. This week can be a big trigger for the trauma suffered by birth parents, particularly those who lost their children to adoption by force/without consent. Having such an important and well-known organisation put the focus onto the people who are least heard when it comes to adoption, is profoundly appreciated. I can not begin to explain to them how much it means, as a birth parent, to know that someone has chosen to shine a light on us and give us the opportunity to speak about what it’s like from our perspective. So, I sat there totally in awe of these people and thinking of the 19-year-old who a day before her birthday was forced to say goodbye to her son, and I am so proud of how far things have come in my personal life, but more so of the people who are out there tirelessly working hard so that birth parents don’t have to face the same future that 19-year-old me was facing, alone. I want all the birth parents out there like me, to know that you are not alone in this, reach out, we are here for you.
Dear 19-year-old me, I know it hurts that he’s gone, but only gone from you. Don’t worry.
You’re not gone from him.